tokusatsu

Review: Ressha Sentai ToQger

Jul 03 // Salvador GRodiles
Ressha Sentai ToQgerStudio: ToeiRelease Date: February 16, 2014 Focusing on the ongoing battle between light and darkness, ToQger is about Right/ToQ 1, Tokatti/ToQ 2, Mio/ToQ 3, Hikari/ToQ 4, and Kagura/ToQ 5's quest to find their hometown known as Pleiades Shore. During their travels, the group joins forces with the Rainbow Line, a railway that protects people's imagination, to battle the Shadow Line, an opposing railroad that spreads their darkness across the land. As the team works hard to protect the various stations scattered across the region, they hope that they'll encounter their home as one of their stops. While the series' premise showed potential, its execution turned the program's early episodes into a trainwreck. Instead of introducing the viewers to the cast, ToQger hurled the main characters at the audience's face. Because of the lack of a proper introduction, it felt that we were missing an important segment that would make the gang more interesting. Sure, GoGo Sentai Boukenger followed this format, but the main difference is that the group's actions and conversations contributed to the audience wanting to learn more about them. Sadly, ToQger failed to accomplish this aspect-- even if the five heroes are childhood friends who lost their memories. Even though the show's cast gave off a fun vibe, their childish personality made them a bit annoying. Right was too scatterbrained and the other heroes felt like they were trying too hard to be silly. Not that I have anything against immature characters, but it takes a special touch to make these type of archetypes work well in a title. Despite ToQger's issues making its viewers care about the stars, Tokatti's shy characteristics and Mio's willingness to look out for everyone were both two examples of elements that could improve the series' quality. While we’re on the topic of childishness, I didn’t expect ToQger to justify their decision to have the team act immature (in a slightly annoying way). Even though the team’s personality got better as the show neared its second half, it felt strange to witness a group of young adult act more childish than the usual folks who exhibit child-like habits. In fact, this twist and their true backstory improved the show’s emotional moments that took form during the show’s second half. To an extent, it even manages to act as a decent way to convey the importance of needing to become more mature in grave situations. Separated from their home and family, the ToQger had to go through great extremes to find their town. It was this sense of maturity that helped the series up the ante after its quality was going up. Sadly, this change didn’t result in Right becoming a more likable character. Nonetheless, his role in the team was important since he’s basically that one slightly annoying guy who somehow prevents the group from falling apart. I guess his inner conflict during the final arc was a decent way to have him grow since he was willing to sacrifice his childhood to help preserve the happiness of his friends. As an adult who has an active inner child, I found the team’s struggle to be relatable because it covered the foundations of learning to be more responsible in certain situations. Even though life can be tough at times, that doesn’t mean that we can’t spice things up while we’re at it. That’s where ToQger’s imagination theme comes to play since it acts as a tool to help the gang stay positive during any difficult task. In the end, I commend the show’s staff for doing a decent job in conveying this message during the program’s stronger segments. ToQger's major twist may have been a great way to push the series forward, but the program's viewers had to reach episode 31 to witness this element first hand. Even though it was foreshadowed earlier in the series, it was hard for many folks to notice this element since there have been a few Sentai heroes who have childish personalities (in an enthusiastic way). Based on the shift in quality between the title's two parts, there’s a good chance the show changed in direction style. In the third part of my interview with Bueno (Gun Caliber’s Producer, Director, and Star) of the indie toku studio Garage Hero, the guy said that the folks in the tokusatsu industry go about making tokusatsu in the two following styles: Either they think that slapping a well-known brand's name on a product is enough to have it sell toys, or they take advantage of the toy’s designs and create an awesome show that uses these products in a cool way where it makes people want to buy them. Since the show’s plot, robots, and action scenes felt a bit lackluster, it was obvious that the staff was following the former. Even though ToQger had Yasuko Kobayashi (Kamen Rider OOO and Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames’ Writer), a writer known for adding creepy elements to her toku shows, on the writing staff, her contribution to the series didn’t bloom until the second half. Because of the sudden increase in quality, one can assume that the production staff’s attempt to ride on the easy merchandising express didn’t help them much since the later episodes felt like they were putting more effort into the show. From there, the staff used the imagination angle to focus on fleshing out the ToQger, along with introducing new machines with improved designs. On top of that, Kobayashi’s dark elements complimented the show’s more enjoyable second course. If there’s one thing that stayed consistent throughout the whole series, it’s the show’s main villains. The main group consisted of General Schwarz, the guy in charge of the Shadow Line's train division; Madame Noire, the classy lady that wishes the best for her daughter; and Grita, Noire's daughter who has a crush on Schwarz. Each elite villains had their own special moments, which placed the program's viewers on their toes as they're left guessing about their final fate. Whether it was Schwarz’s hints of ulterior motives or Noire's special plans for Grita, the series’ adversaries rarely stuck to the basic role of conquering humanity. Honestly, it was the evil cast’s personality and motives that kept me interesting in seeing how the show developed early on. In a way, they were the only thing that felt like Kobayashi’s signature aspects when the show was off track. Perhaps the best villain of them all was the Emperor of Darkness himself. One thing that made the Shadow Line's ruler great was that he wasn’t your run-of-the-mill evil villain who wants to bring destruction to the world. Throughout the series, the guy only wanted to exhibit his own ‘shine.’ In a way, the Emperor of Darkness’ situation symbolizes the concept of people expectations on certain individuals. Because of his status, the Shadow Line’s top rulers expect him to be a ruthless lord who’s intent on bringing despair to the entire planet. At the same time, his methods exhibit the characteristics of a deprived child who would go through great lengths to get what he wants. Thanks to the way how he was depicted in the show, the staff did a good job in placing the villain in a position where he could switch sides at any given point in time. Speaking of great villains, the Shadow Line’s top member featured some solid designs. The main generals were demonic Victorian/High-Class Wild West creatures that had slight bits of Steampunk and Zed looked like he would be a Devil Trigger Form in the Devil May Cry series. Hell, the great craftsmanship placed into each costume was another great factor that gave me hope that ToQger would improve. Again, this was one of the few things that the show had going for it when it seemed that the show was trying to sell toys based on the Super Sentai name alone. As the program started to improve, we started to see a jump in the robot designs as well. ToQ 6's machine and the other combining mechas were all cool-looking robots since the train features were distributed better across their bodies-- unlike the ToQ-Oh’s Total Recall train chest. For a franchise that’s known for showcasing some fun fight scenes, ToQger fell flat in its early half. While the imagination-based powers sounded like a nifty gimmick, the show’s heroes exhibited clumsy movements that lacked the exhilarating feeling that comes from most Sentai shows. Normally, this sort of style would work great for a good laugh (such as the Go-Onger losing some of their early fights in their show) but the program’s failure to establish its characters properly prevented it from succeeding in this matter. Luckily, the action sequences improved as the series’ quality went up. Part of it likely had to do with the team gaining more experience in battle, along with ToQ 6 changing up the program’s format. Even when ToQger was its worse, the series had a great array of voice actors at its side. Jun Fukuyama (Code Geass' Lelouch, Assassination Classroom's Koro-sensei), Noriko Hidaka (Gunbuster's Noriko and Ranma 1/2's Akane), and Aya Hisakawa (Sailor Moon's Ami/Sailor Mercury, Cardcaptor Sakura's Kero) all did a wonderful job with voicing Nero, Noire, and Grita. Of course, their great performance contributed to the Shadow Line being a great group to follow. For the good side, Kappei Yamaguchi (One Piece's Ussop and Persona 4's Teddie) and Yui Horie (Persona 4's Chie and Golden Time's Koko) both hit the park with their roles as Ticket the puppet and Wagon. With the Conductor by their side, they were the Rainbow Line's best characters during the show's first half.  ToQger may have had a weak start, but the show easily gained the title of the Little Engine that could when it ended its run. ToQ 6's silly backstory and Emperor’s story were two key ingredients that threw the series back on track. Combined with the various power uprisings happening among the main adversaries, the program started to become more entertaining than before. Of course, the program’s theme about children learning to be responsible while retaining their imaginative creativity was another factor that improved the title. Unfortunately, one would have to sit through 12 or 13 mediocre episodes before the train-themed Sentai title picks up; therefore making it a difficult series to recommend to people. However, if a person can endure the darkness that plagues the series early on, then he/she might come out with a smile that’s powered by imagination and rainbows. Once you reach your final destination, there’s a small chance that you’ll reconnect with your inner child. Depending on your experience, you might have a better appreciation of the term ‘IMAGINAAAATION!’ [This review is based on a broadcast of the program obtained by Japanator] If there’s one thing that ToQger shares with Goseiger, it’s that both shows have a weird-looking Super Form for their Rangers. While the team’s Hyper Express Mode looks better than the Goseiger’s Miracle Mode, I feel that it’s lacking since the armor doesn’t complement the suit much. Nonetheless, the new transformation worked well in pushing the story forward as the Marquise Mork entered the scene. In this case, it shows us that an average power-up can improve a program’s plot when used right. It also helps that Zed remains as one of the series’ best villains. One thing that made Zed great was that he wasn’t your run-of-the-mill evil villain who wants to bring destruction to the world. Throughout the series, the guy just wants to exhibit his own ‘shine.’ In a way, the Emperor of Darkness’ situation symbolizes the concept of people expectations on certain individuals. Because of his status, the Shadow Line’s top rulers expect him to be a ruthless lord who’s intent on brining despair to the entire planet. At the same time, his methods exhibit the characteristics of a deprived child who would go through great lengths to get what he wants. Thanks to the way how Zed was depicted in the show, the staff did a good job in placing the villain in a position where he could switch sides at any given point in time. While we’re on the topic of children, I didn’t expect ToQger to justify their decision to have the team act childish (in a slightly annoying way). Even though the team’s personality got better as the show neared its second half, it felt strange to witness a group of young adult act more immature than usual folks who exhibit child-like habits. The idea behind Right and his friends being children who were turned to adults to fight the Shadow Line added to the show’s emotional moments that took form during the show’s second half. To an extent, it manages to act as a decent way to show the importance of kids needing to become more mature in grave situations. Separated from their home and family, the ToQger had to go through great extremes to find their town while fighting the Shadow Line’s forces. It was this sense of maturity that helped the series up the ante after its quality was going up. Sadly, this change didn’t result in Right becoming a more likable character. Nonetheless, his role in the team was important since he’s basically that one slightly annoying guy who somehow prevents the group from falling part. I guess his inner conflict during the final arc was a decent way to have him grow since he was willing to sacrifice his childhood to help preserve the happiness of his friends. As an adult who has an active inner child, I found the team’s struggle to be relatable because it covered the foundations of learning to be more responsible in certain situations. Even though life can be tough at times, that doesn’t mean that we can’t spice things up while we’re at it. That’s where ToQger’s imagination theme comes to play since it acts as a tool to help the gang stay positive during any difficult task. In the end, I commend the show’s staff for doing a decent job in conveying this message during the program’s stronger segments. While the show’s major twist was a great way to push the series forward, the show’s viewers had to reach episode 31 to witness this element first hand. Even though it was foreshadowed earlier in the series, the franchise’s status as a children’s program made it hard for most folks to notice this element since there have been a few Sentai heroes who have childish personalities (in an enthusiastic way). Based on the shift in quality between the ToQger’s early and later episodes, there’s a good chance the show changed in direction style. In the third part of my interview with Bueno (Gun Caliber’s Producer, Director, and Star) of the indie toku studio Garage Hero, the guy said that the folks in the tokusatsu industry go about making tokusatsu in the two following styles: Either they think that slapping a well-known brand name on a product is enough to have it sell toys, or they take advantage of the toy’s designs and create an awesome show that uses these products in a cool way where it makes people want to buy them. Since the show’s plot, robots, and action scenes felt a bit lackluster, it was obvious that the staff was following the former. Even though ToQger had Yasuko Kobayashi (Kamen Rider OOO and Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames’ Writer), a writer known for adding creepy elements to toku shows, on the writing staff, her contribution to the series didn’t bloom until the second half. Because of the sudden increase in quality, one can assume that the production staff’s attempt to ride on the easy merchandising express didn’t help them much since the later episodes felt like they were putting more effort into the show. From there, the staff used the imagination angle to focus more on fleshing out the ToQger and the newer machines featured improved designs. On top of that, Kobayashi’s dark elements complimented the show’s more enjoyable second course. If there’s one thing that stayed consistent throughout the whole series, it’s the show’s main villains. Aside from Zed’s situation, the other big villains had their own special moments. Whether it was Schwarz’s transition from conquering the Shadow Line to avenging Grita or Noire’s attempt to make Grita the head of the group, the series’ adversaries rarely stuck to the basic role of conquering humanity. Honestly, it was the evil cast’s personality and motives that kept me interesting in seeing how the show developed early on. In a way, they were the only thing that felt like Kobayashi’s signature aspects when the show was off track. Speaking of great villains, the Shadow Line’s top member featured some solid designs. The main generals were demonic Victorian/High-Class Wild West creatures that had slight bits of Steampunk and Zed looked like he would be a Devil Trigger Form in the Devil May Cry series. Hell, the great craftsmanship placed into each costume was another great factor that gave me hope that ToQger would improve. Again, this was one of the few things that the show had going for it when it seemed that the show was trying to sell toys based on the Super Sentai name alone. As the program started to improve, we started to see a jump in the robot designs as well. The Build Dai-Oh, Super Duper ToQ-Oh, Hyper Express Emperor, and ToQ Rainbow were all cool-looking robots since the train features were distributed better across their bodies-- unlike the ToQ-Oh’s Total Recall train chest. For a franchise that’s known for showcasing some fun fight scenes, ToQger fell flat in its early half. While the imagination-based powers sounded like a nifty gimmick, the show’s heroes exhibited clumsy movements that lacked the exhilarating feeling that comes from most Sentai shows. Normally, this sort of style would work great for a good laugh (such as the Go-Onger losing some of their early fights in their show) but the program’s failure to establish its characters properly prevented it from succeeding in this matter. Luckily, the action sequences improved as the series’ quality went up. Part of it likely had to do with the team gaining more experience in battle, along with ToQ 6 changing up the program’s format. ToQger maybe had a rough start, but the show easily gained the title of the Little Engine that could when it ended its run. ToQ 6 being a former Shadow Line member and Zed’s story were two key ingredients that threw the series back on track. Combined with the various power uprisings happening among the main adversaries, the program started to become more entertaining than before. Of course, the program’s theme about children learning to be responsible while retaining their imaginative creativity was another factor that improved the title. Unfortunately, one would have to sit through 12 or 13 mediocre episodes before the train-themed Sentai title picks up; therefore making it a difficult series to recommend to people. However, if one can endure the darkness that plagues the series early on, then they might come out with a smile that’s powered by imagination and rainbows. Once you reach your final destination, there’s a good chance that you’ll reconnect with your inner child. Depending on your experience, you might have a better appreciation of the term ‘IMAGINAAAATION!’
Ressha Sentai ToQger photo
Imagining Victory!
When it comes to TV shows that run for a year, it’s hard to imagine that a long series could improve when its early segments failed to impress most viewers. In many cases, if you can’t grab the audience during the...

Texas Toku Taisen photo
Texas Toku Taisen

Here's the Texas Toku Taisen '15's screening schedule for San Japan


Texas is about to get its Henshin on
Jun 24
// Salvador GRodiles
As we get ready to finish off the month of June, the screening schedule for this year's Texas Toku Taisen has hit the Web. This time around, they're showing their stuff at San Japan 8 on July 31 through Aug. 2, whic...
Ultraman X photo
Ultraman X

Ultraman X gets a new trailer


Nice gear
Jun 22
// Hiroko Yamamura
I'm way behind (like decades) on my Tokusatsu selection, but this new Ultraman X trailer is looking pretty good! He's looking like he's got some new gear in his arsenal, and can deliver a pretty sweet side kick. The scene with the ship doesn't look so hot, but who knows.. could be a great romp! The show hits the airways on July 14th, and will be the 41st Ultraman on the lineup!

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo Gold Storm Soar episode 7

Jun 01 // Salvador GRodiles
Well, folks; Gold Storm has delivered a good follow-up to the last episode, as it managed to flesh out Zinga and Amily’s story a bit more. One of the neat things about their characters is that the two villains were a Makai Knight and a Priestess before they became Horrors, since it was an improvement over Garo: Makai no Hana's Monster-of-the-Week that was once a Knight. Sure, they’re obviously meant to be Ryuga and Rian's opposites, but their abilities made way for some great fight sequences. Not only that, it gave us a cool-looking Horror suit during the scene, which had the same Makai Knight vibe as Sonshi’s Horror Form from Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness. Aside from the great clash between two guys in costumes, the intensity behind Zinga and Amily’s actions gave that strange feeling that our heroes wouldn’t be able to escape from this situation unharmed. Of course, the sword clashes and aerial combat maneuvers in this episode were fun to follow. While they could’ve used some green screen techniques to add some special environments to improve the scene, the segment worked nice as a first encounter between the major players in the story, since they got to jump around as they fought to the death. Most importantly, we got the Makai Knight on Horror suit action that the franchise’s famous for, so that’s a major positive aspect about this whole sequence. Thanks to this scenario, Masahiro Inoue finally put his acting skills to good work, which shows how a major confrontation can go a long way. In a way, his performance shared some elements with his egotistical lines as Tsukasa in Kamen Rider Decade (like the segments where he steals the show in the alternate Rider Worlds). Hell, I guess you could say he’s like the evil counterpart of the Destroyer of Worlds. Depending on show turns out in the end, this might be one of the few instances where he’ll end up in a toku series that’s actually good. In regards to Amily's character, she still has a long way to go before she can become a great villain, as she’s still depicted as Zinga’s loyal right hand woman who follows his lead. Other than that, her attempts to one-up Rian were entertaining on their own behalf. This was due to the opposing chemistry between the two ladies, since it complements Rian’s winning streak of being a fun Makai Priestess to keep up with. Gold Storm may be far from reaching its halfway point, but first big encounter between the main heroes and the villains left us on the edge of our seats. Combined with the mysterious Makai Priest’s move to unite the special daggers, episode 7’s banquet has prepared us for the next big course in the series. Seeing that Zinga's the cannibalistic Horror, I think we can assume that he’ll use Ladan to create an unlimited food supply to feed his need for demonic creatures. Once this moment happens, then the show'll get realer than before.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
Suit on suit action is back, baby
You know that a show still has some tricks up its sleeve when it starts to get even more intense than its preceding episode. Honestly, it’s hard to believe that Garo: Gold Storm Soar’s already placing Ryuga and Ri...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episode 6

May 25 // Salvador GRodiles
For a series that’s supposed to run for 25 episodes, Gold Storm is really pushing it to the limit in these past few episodes. Each segment introduces us to a piece of the big mystery, and our main heroes make sure to follow up on every clue that comes their way. Honestly, it was amazing to see that the story hit a major point in the big conflict this early in its run. I mean, did anyone expect for Ryuga and Rian to find the source of the increase in Horror activity so soon? My assumption is that no one saw this coming. Since the secret behind Kiya Antiques felt like a halfway-point twist, the show’s staff has proven to us that things are bigger than they seem. However, what made this chapter interesting was how they grounded the key aspects that Horrors are attracted to. Even though Rian was the kind of girl who flirts with people to get what she wants, her inner desires and actions aren’t classified as Karmic feelings. All in all, it’s good to see this type of trope being implemented in the franchise, as many shows that are about hunting evil demonic creatures tend to force its heroes to be lawful good and/or fully pure. While this element has always appeared in the previous Garo installments (such as Takeru from Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness and Germán from Garo: The Carved Seal of Flame sleeping with various women), there’s something nice about having the series remind its viewers about this rule, since it adds an extra layer of goodness to the experience. Despite the appearance of another CG elite Horror, the action between the suit actors and the models are still an improvement over the third Garo series. Hell, the monster’s multiple arms and elephant-like features made it a neat creature. Perhaps if it was a costume, the fight might’ve been better, since the 3D creature didn’t feel much impact from the Golden Knight’s slashes. Nonetheless, there were some satisfying moments in the fight, and the end result gives us hope that the staff’s holding back their greatest assets. This hidden trump card lies in the mysterious cannibalistic Horror, since the figure's lighting shows that the creature is an actual suit. If this is anything to go by, Garo: Gold Storm Soar’s still holding a few things back from its viewers. Seeing that this new villain sports a cool undead demonic look, it’s safe to say that Amemiya and his team managed to leave us with a tasty sample to get us excited for the next course. Of course, a fight scene that features a classy old dude that pulls off Captain America-like moves with an antique shield is another great sign for things to come. At this point in the game, it’s a good thing that I chose to stick with Garo: Gold Storm Soar. Zinga and Amily may lack the qualities of being great villains, but the show’s plot manages to imply that they hold more control over the city than it seems. Based on the previews for episode 7, their time to shine might finally arrive, and things might start to get more intense. With the special daggers’ role and the mysterious young Makai Priest's motives, there are plenty of potential recipes for the staff to exploit in the upcoming weeks. One thing for sure, my stomach is ready for the next huge meal.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
Boxes with anteater logos equal doom
I may’ve been keeping my fingers crossed for Garo: Gold Storm Soar to blow our minds with some amazing suit on suit action, but that isn’t stopping me from enjoying the show’s story. Since the series’ ...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episode 5

May 18 // Salvador GRodiles
If there’s one thing that Gold Storm does right, it’s that it continues to establish continuity between its episodes each week. Even when a segment feels like a side-story, its key moments somehow manage to link the chapter to the main plot. Hell, I never expected for that one girl from episode 1 to return recently, since she seemed like she was just a random victim. In a sense, this type of format can make a program fascinating, because it lets people ponder on which characters’ll become important later on. This following issue may not affect the show’s quality, but I found it strange that the girl’s sister resorted to fooling around with guys to help her raise money to study abroad. Couldn’t she have gotten her younger sister to sign up for a grant, scholarship, or some other form of financial aid? I guess the show’s staff was trying to convey the concept of going through great lengths to help someone-- even if there were better alternatives to cover this situation. Either way, the scenario helped pave the way for Ryuga and Rian to catch on about the recent increases in Horror activity in the vicinity. Going back to what I said earlier, the way how Gold Storm handles its story allows us to feel amazed when a empty slots gets filled by a new puzzle piece, which works well in taking its viewers along for the ride. While Zinga and Amily haven’t become appealing villains yet, the mystery behind their plan to give Ladan more power is what keeps us on our seats each week. As long as the show keeps linking the Horror activities to their actions, then their first encounter with Ryuga and Rian should lead to a good breaking point in the story. If Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkess' twist is anything to go by, then the Destroyer of World's actions should leave us with a shocked expression. Gold Storm may have not given us a cool-looking Horror suit, but this week’s design is at least a step in the right direction. While the creature was a beefed-up guy with monster arms, the staff’s detail on the man’s face made it seem like his monstrous form was about to jump out of his skin. Since the franchise’s suits are supposed to give off a scary movie vibe, I’d say that episode 5 managed to fill in this requirement, which acts as another beacon of hope. But hey, the big dude made Ryuga’s fights look cool, as they got the right shots and choreography techniques that make a fist fight between a muscular person and a normal-built dude look spectacular. Based on the program's progression so far, Garo’s sixth series is slowly feeling like the franchise we all love, which is a good sign that this'll be a good installment for the franhise. To add to its positive elements, you know a series is promising when the hero partakes in a well-shot game of darts. In actually, any sport or competitive activity could work as well. As we start to see minor characters and events link the show’s main plot together, Garo: Gold Storm Soar should start reaching new heights in the next episode. If the suits show their face again, then we might have a huge winner here.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
When helping someone goes wrong
Back when I said that Garo: Gold Storm Soar had potential, I wasn’t fooling around. With each passing episode, the show continues to shine brighter than before. As we start to see the series' various story elements come together, the big mystery continues to leave us intrigued. From the looks of it, the franchise is still in good shape.

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger photo
Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger

It's Judgement Time: Dekaranger to return as a V-Cinema


Chu Chu Chu Deka Deka!
May 15
// Salvador GRodiles
Oh my. Right when it felt that Hurricanger was going to be the only Sentai show to get the 10 Years After treatment, a new beacon of hope has surfaced for toku fans. Seeing that it's been ten years since Tokusou Sentai Dekar...
Events photo
Events

Huzzah: Anime at the Alamo: San Antonio and Texas Toku Taisen are holding a contest


Free goods for two lucky winners
May 12
// Salvador GRodiles
Now this is what I call good news! It turns out that Mecha Gorilla, the masterminds behind Anime at the Alamo: San Antonio and the Texas Toku Taisen, got a sponsorship by IELLO Games. In commemoration to this event, the group...
Cyber Ninja Tekkaraiger photo
Cyber Ninja Tekkaraiger

Henshin Ninpou: Cellphones and shinobi unite in Cyber Ninja Tekkaraiger


True ninjas never miss their dates
May 12
// Salvador GRodiles
Is it me, or has there been a ton of ninja-related content in these past few months? With Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, Ninja Slayer, and the upcoming ninja-themed toku series, Hayate, the warriors who hide in the shadows ...
Fan Expo Dallas photo
Fan Expo Dallas

Heading to Fan Expo Dallas? Come have dinner with Godzilla's staff


Be sure to have a roaring appetite
May 10
// Salvador GRodiles
You know. Meeting your favorite industry people at a convention may be cool and all, but nothing beats the idea of having a meal with the folks you admire. Speaking of which, Fan Expo Dallas' giving people the chance to ...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episode 4

May 08 // Salvador GRodiles
If there’s one thing that the Garo franchise does well, it’s the world-building aspects in regards to the Makai Knights, Horrors, special realms, and all the other toppings that make up the show’s various settings. To an extent, this is one of the aspects that makes the series’ side episodes shine, since it rewards the viewers for being invested in the franchise. In regards to this week’s adventure, Daigo Akizuki’s introduction helped show off Ryuga and Rian's growth as characters. Sure, it wasn’t a big conversation, but it felt that Daigo's interpretation of Ryuga and Rian was similar to how they were in Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness. In a sense, this episode conveyed the two heroes’ resolve in prioritizing on the important matters during a mission, such as saving lives and what not. Basically, it’s an extra little reward for those who enjoyed following Ryuga and Rian’s development. Perhaps the big surprise this week was that Daigo’s Makai Knight Armor was an actual freaking suit, which means that Amemiya’s likely saving the costume designs for Gold Storm’s major heroes and villains. Better yet, the staff’s decision to give the guy a bulkier suit compliments the warrior’s axe fighting style. To top it all off, the emerald green color acts as the final ingredient to gives the design a badass look. Interestingly, Giga the Beast Body Knight was originally featured in a Garo pachinko game called Makai Kessen Gaoh. That being said, it’s great to see that the show’s steam used a design from the pachinko machines in the toku series, since it gives us the chance to see these characters in action. While there wasn’t a powerful Horror causing trouble in the city, the group’s fight against a horde of normal creatures helped change up the Golden Knight suit on CG Monster-of-the-Week action that’s been going on for three weeks. Hopefully, this type of thing’ll happen in future episodes. That way, the viewers can be blown away by the stunt work done by the actors that are in and out of suit. For now, Daigo's fight scenes in his human and Makai Armored Form left us with some impacting moves, which increases my hopes in him returning later on. When it seemed that Garo: Gold Storm Soar was going to follow in the same footsteps as Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness, the program’s team showed us that viewers are still getting their taste of well-made suits. Even though we were only treated to a new Makai Knight suit and a bunch of recycled Horror costumes, the action that was done with these suits made up for it in the long run. One thing for sure, this scenario was a tasty appetizer to keep us full until the major story with Ladan starts to kick in. Since the plot's beginning to show a transition between episodes, the payoff should be worth our time.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
Hurray for more actual costumes
It may’ve been unfortunate that the latest Garo series hasn’t featured any new amazing Horror suits, but that isn’t stopping the show from bringing us a new costume. Once again, Keita Amemiya might be the gu...

Review: Chroma Squad

May 05 // Josh Tolentino
Chroma Squad (PC) Developer: Behold StudiosPublisher: Behold StudiosReleased: April 30, 2015MSRP: $14.99 Not that they really needed to, of course. Such a "feature" would interfere with play, and there's plenty of service in the game as it is for fans. The play, in this case, is of the turn-based tactical variety, as if Behold took XCOM and ran it through the parodic, pixelated filters of Knights of Pen and Paper.  Like the former, players will manage a small squad of combatants, with unique classes and abilities, running them up against groups of goons and the occasional boss, one turn at a time. Like the latter, every mechanic serves as a distillation of tokusatsu's essence through heavy referencing and a clear, almost palpable appreciation of the source material. The premise alone is ripe enough with potential that it's baffling more games haven't taken advantage: Players manage a fledgling production studio, with each mission treated as an "episode" of an upstart spandex superhero show. Names, casting, and even catchphrases are up for customization, as well as the requisite selection of bright primary colors to outfit the roster with. If players want to commit sentai sacrilege and name a non-red-colored character the "Lead," no one can stop them but their inevitable guilt (guilt, I say!). Cast members can also be selected from a pool of actor candidates, each with their own special qualities.  [embed]33795:4709:0[/embed] When the cameras start rolling and the minions exit wardrobe, the fight is on. The goal of any given mission is to amass as much "audience" as possible, by performing flashy attacks, fancy stunts, and of course, winning the fight. Additionally, optional "Director's Instructions" add extra conditions, such as finishing off boss monsters with a screen-filling finishing move, or not killing off the boss before dispatching the cannon-fodder minions. Such extra goals help introduce variety to the combat, which is more simplistic than one might find in XCOM or other dedicated tactical titles. Enemies follow simple patterns and lack much in the way of extra abilities, so most of the tactics devolve to crowd and ability cooldown management rather than more elegant stratagems. Chroma Squad's main mechanical wrinkle comes in the form of "Teamwork," which allows squad members to leapfrog over each other to boost their movement range, or carry out simultaneous attacks with adjacent teammates. This, alongside somewhat simplistic giant-mecha boss battles, give the game enough of a unique flavor to override its otherwise thin tactical substance.  Following the mission, gained audience is converted into "fans," and also into increased studio funding, the better to buy one's way out of Papier-mâché costumes and into somereal spandex duds. Behind the scenes, the studio itself can be outfitted with various upgrades that improve performance in each episode. Buying health care for the actors improves their health in combat, and improving the lighting on set reduces enemies' chance to dodge or counter blows. Materials dropped in combat can also be used to craft customized gear with semi-random statistics, a useful (and cheap) alternative to costly store-bought costumes and weapons. Fan mail can be answered for flavor and smaller benefits, and players can even choose marketing agencies to confer more benefits. Going with a niche-market enthusiast firm might increase the amount of fans gained after an episode, but will likely lack the mass-audience-gathering benefits of a more mainstream advertising push. Tradeoffs like that characterize much of Chroma Squad's meta-game. Speaking of meta-things, the game's narrative and missions regularly break the fourth wall, and form one of the game's potentially divisive aspects. While the self-aware script and obvious understanding of tokusatsu's many conventions and tropes lend it an endearing level of charm, some players might be turned off by references to dated Internet memes and other metahumor. Personally, I found the story hit quite a bit more than it missed, but I will admit that at times the dialog read more like a forum chat log than a script, and wasn't always helped by rough spots in the localization and editing. Then again, it's not like tokusatsu attracts its fans for complex plotting and characterization, so it may balance out in the end for players in the right mindset. What isn't as easy to let by are some unfortunate, if minor, technical and design blemishes on Chroma Squad's pristine pixelation. Mission scripts would occasionally freeze in "cutscene" mode, forcing me to start the mission over. A nasty little bug accidentally equipped low-level equipment on my giant robot, making some late-game boss battles much more tense than I'd have liked them to be. One bug even gave me control of an enemy unit rather than my own squad members for a few turns! Thankfully, dev posts on the forums appear to indicate that Behold is aware of most of the bugs I encountered, and a patch is in the works at the time of this writing. Beyond that, the lack of a mid-mission checkpoint or save, or a mission-select option is inconvenient for players wanting to explore the game's branching story paths (especially for those curious to see what Behold has to say about Kamen Rider). That said, the team has stated a New Game+ option may yet be in the cards for a future update, so repeated playthroughs may become more appealing in the future. Zordon may have wanted "teens with attitude," but Chroma Squad and its unabashed, utterly geeky love-in for all things tokusatsu shows something even harder to find: A game with heart and soul. That heart shines through the rough edges, and in some ways even turns them to its advantage. It might have taken quite a while in getting here, but fans of spandex-clad superheroic finally have the videogame to help them fill that little fantasy. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]  
Chroma Squad photo
Lights, Camera, Henshin!
Ever since a badly-dubbed lady popped out of a dumpster on the moon, sending a weird computer-man to seek "teenagers with attitude," geeks of a certain age have been on the lookout for a game that can capture the es...

After V photo
After V

Drink Up: Kanpai Senshi After V gets a second season


Stay thirsty, my heroes
May 04
// Salvador GRodiles
It's been a year since Kanpai Senshi After V quenched our thirst for a fun Sentai parody show. While the series wasn't on the same level as Akibaranger, the main thing that made it nice was its similarities to the sitcom Chee...

First Impressions: Garo: Gold Storm Soar

May 04 // Salvador GRodiles
Just like Garo: Makai no Hana's early episodes, the sixth series throws us into the main conflict. In this installment, two mysterious figures called Zinga and Amily are behind the increase in Horror activity in the surrounding area, which leads up to them releasing Ladan, another powerful Horror, from its seal. In other words, Ryuga and Rian are in for a mission where they have to prevent these two figures from completing in their plan. Compare to the previous toku series, Gold Storm’s basic premise doesn’t do too much to pull viewers in. Instead, the show’s big appeal is getting to see Ryuga and Rian in action again. Seeing that it’s been a good while since Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness, the staff manage to show us that their characters have grown from back then. Ryuga seems to be more aware of his environment in battle, and Rian continues to mess with her opponents while using a gun and brush in combat. All in all, as a person who enjoyed the third Garo series, the main cast's evolution was a nice way to spice up the story. That, and Ryuga’s shuriken-shooting sheathe is an amazing way to make the guy stand out from Kouga, Raiga, and Leon. As nice as it was to see Ryuga and Rian again, the series fell short of delivering a solid performance. Sure, the show established the main conflict early on, but show’s tendency to rely on CG Horrors prevents it from reaching the same level of greatness found in the Kouga and Raiga Garo installments. Unfortunately, this continues to be a trend in Gold Storm’s second and third episode, which means that the franchise’s team might be saving the Horror costume designs for the upcoming Garo movie that stars Raiga from Makai no Hana. Nonetheless, the action choreography between the human characters continue to be a treat, since the action's still dynamic and well-shot. On top of that, each Horror-of-the-Week sports a unique design, which is an improvement over the third installment's decision to mostly feature the same creature models. Speaking of improvements, Ryuga’s battles as the Golden Knight utilize a new-and-improved Garo suit, which shows that the team’s still capable of creating cool outfits. From the detail in the armor's neck to the shoulders' new shapes, the current costume is a nice change from the one that was featured in the earlier titles. If anything, this is one factor that’s an improvement over the third series in the franchise, since we get to see the Armor’s Suit Actor partake in more stunts. Interestingly, Masahiro Inoue (Kamen Rider Decade’s Tsukasa/Decade) appears in the series as Zinga, which means that he’s retained his title as the Destroyer of Worlds. Based on his performance so far, he might evolve into an interesting villain later on. I guess it’ll all depend on how he interacts with the show’s cast during the first major encounter. For now, it's hard to determine whether he'll be a good or terrible villain, since his appearances have been brief for now. In terms of continuity, Gold Storm doesn’t require for its viewers to be familiar with its prequel film. Judging from the show’s first three episodes, the only thing that people likely missed out on was the introduction of D. Ringo, his assistant Yukihime, and Ryume, the show’s main Watch Dog. While these characters likely played a big supporting role in series’ prequel, the two shopkeepers seem to provide Ryuga with any information about his targets. Nonetheless, there’s a good chance that they’ll be more fleshed out in this installment, so viewers shouldn’t worry about feeling left out. Seeing the Gold Storm TV show’s premise is different from its movie, the program’s timeline won’t be an issue here. Even though Gold Storm lacks the same strengths that made Makai no Hana’s beginning worthwhile, the show still has the potential to be a good installment for the franchise. Since the program’s been leaving us with hints of Zinga and Amili plan for Ladan, I’m certain that the plot’ll get juicier in the later weeks to come. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some actual new Horror costumes in future episodes, since it’s one of the fine ingredients that make the Garo franchise great. Considering that the series’ visuals are an improvement from Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness, this is a great sign that Amemiya’s direction will turn this program into a shining success-- even if the well-designed Monster-of-the-Week suits are absent.
Garo photo
Ryuga is back, baby!
Back when it was announced that Ryuga from Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness would appear in a new Garo series, there are two possible outcomes that could come out of this. On one hand, we get to see Ryuga as a more ex...

Chroma Squad photo
Chroma Squad

Get hyped for Chroma Squad's tokusatsu-inspired trailer


Live-action transformation sequence included!
Apr 24
// Salvador GRodiles
Ahem. Excuse me while I go get my transformation device. As the resident toku guy on Japanator, it's no surprise that I'm super excited for Chroma Squad, since the game lets us manage our own tokusatsu studio. Best off all, ...
Hayate photo
Hayate

Garage Hero's upcoming Hayate web series goes on hiatus


There's a good reason behind this update
Apr 17
// Salvador GRodiles
Well, folks; it looks like Garage Hero's upcoming ninja-themed web series, Hayate, has been put on hold for now. The reasoning behind the hiatus is because of the group's production on Ayakashi Zamurai, Garage Hero's sh...
Garage Hero photo
Garage Hero

Watch Garage Hero tear Super Hero Wars GP to shreds


In which Bueno tells a kid to shut the hell up
Apr 10
// Salvador GRodiles
Aw snap, Bueno of Garage Hero and his friends are about to get real, as they share their thoughts on Super Hero Wars GP: Kamen Rider 3, which might as well be called Super Mario Kart: Let's Go Kamen Rider Edition. ...
Garage Hero photo
Garage Hero

Aw snap, Garage Hero share their thoughts on the Ultraman Ginga S movie


Brought to you by Whey Body Protein
Mar 27
// Salvador GRodiles
If you've been interested in checking out Ultraman Ginga S the Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors, Bueno (Gun Caliber's Director, Producer, and Hero), Michael (Gun Caliber's Blue), Max (Hayate's Co-Producer) an...
Ultraman photo
Ultraman

It's Ultraman Ginga S time!


An Ultra good time
Mar 17
// Hiroko Yamamura
Been short on your Ultraman fix? Good! Because Tsuburaya has quite a little treat for you fans, with their stream of the first four minutes of the newly released Ultraman Ginga S: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors! Now that's ...
Gun Caliber photo
Gun Caliber

Gun Caliber: Bootleg Edition shoots its way back to YouTube


Spring is about to get filled with bullets
Mar 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Spring may be known as that the Season of Allergies, but Bueno and Garage Hero have decided to overcome this issue with their fourth YouTube stream of Gun Caliber: Bootleg Edition. This time around, people can watch...
Chroma Squad photo
Chroma Squad

Pull out your Henshin Devices: Chroma Squad gets a release date


Now featuring flashy bucket helmets
Mar 10
// Salvador GRodiles
Heroes and heroines; it's time for us to transform into our Ultimate Form-- excuse me while I change into Crocodile Sunshine. Why you say? Because Behold Studios has announced the release date for Chroma Squad, the...
Power/Rangers photo
Power/Rangers

Check out a Hollywood pro's ultraviolent take on Power Rangers


We goin' grim, we goin' dark!
Feb 25
// Josh Tolentino
Don't you love it when, for some trick of fate or circumstance, the idle fantasies you used to dream up when you were a dumb kid somehow come true? That's what happened for a lot of folks a couple days ago when Director Jose...

We Chat With Gun Caliber's Bueno: Toys, Choreography, and Toku's current state

Feb 16 // Salvador GRodiles
Japanator: If you were given the chance to work on any existing tokusatsu franchise, which one would you do, and how would you make it different? Bueno: I'd make Mirai Ninja, because Keita Amemiya has been talking about making that, ever since he made the first one-- and he hasn't done it. Because all that Pachinko money is funding the Garo shows, so he's stuck in this endless loop where he has to make Garo shows, because the Pachinko games are making the money to fund them. Japanator: Oh! So that's why there's been so many Garo projects lately. Bueno: Yeah. Nobody really understands that. Have you heard my podcast with Mecha Gorilla? Japanator: Yes! Bueno: We talked about the same thing-- I think it was with Mecha Gorilla or Christafurion and Friends. The Pachinko games pretty much fund the series. That's why they have so much series of Garo. Then, it's an endless loop of, "Okay, Garo had a Pachinko game that did well, so it funds the new Garo series." Then the new Garo series gets a Pachinko game based on it, and that one funds the next one. So he's kind of stuck in that rut, and I want to be able to work with Keita Amemiya on Mirai Ninja 2. But I don't know, that brings me to another discussion of if I would want to work on a Japanese production. From my experiences here in Japan, working on somebody else's projects --especially the Japanese ones-- could be really really really tough work, because there's a certain way of doing things. Also, because of the fact that you are a foreigner, working in this industry over here, you're gonna deal with a lot of racism. Bueno with Mark Musashi (Sh15uya's Piece, Garo's Kodama) at Machigaine Hot Dogs in Akihabara Japanator: Based on your experience with tokusatsu and film making, what are your current thoughts on the tokusatsu industry? Bueno: More than the industry, the "fandom" is kind of in a rut right now. The four major franchises in tokusatsu right now are Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, Ultraman, and Garo-- as far as like henshin hero stuff goes. People would say Godzilla and kaiju stuff, but when people say "tokusatsu," they're going to talk about Kamen Rider more-- you just gotta face the facts. That's partially the reason why SciFi Japan TV closed down, they had some great content, but nobody gave a shit. They wanted to cover Ultraman and kaiju stuff, and not the Kamen Rider and Super Sentai stuff , because that's what Tokusatsu Network and HJU cover. They wanted to break from the mold. The problem with that is that the fans like to talk about Kamen Rider and Super Sentai more than Ultraman and kaiju, so they don't know who their audience is. The fandom of Ultraman and Godzilla is very small, compared to Kamen Rider and Super Sentai. That leads me to the gripe that I have with tokusatsu right now: The "fandom" consists of consumers, and not enough creators. When I say this, I'm talking about the "fandom," and the fact that they like to talk tokusatsu, rather than try to create it. There's a number of reasons of why this is: "Fans" see it as intimidating, they think it cost too much, they don't have the know-how, or they don't have the time. There's tons of excuses, and sometimes they are good excuses, like it really does cost money. There are "some toku fans" out there who basically say, "Yeah, I could do that, I could do this." I don't know if you remember Carey Martell, but he's a guy who was so full of himself, and he wanted to make an American tokusatsu called Deathfist Ninja GKaiser. He made the effort, but nobody wanted to help him fund the movie. Bueno with Japanese comedian Kaori Takamura at YouTube Space Tokyo Me on the other hand, I just decided to go out there, and stop waiting. I got off my ass, and worked at my job to raise the money to make a tokusatsu. That's pretty much what it is, you gotta to raise the funds til you have the suit. The first step is getting the suit, but "certain toku fans" don't realize that, because they're thinking, "Oh, it cost too much money." That's why a lot of people don't have the resources to make tokusatsu, and that's probably why they only relegate themselves to reviewing or gossiping about tokusatsu, rather than making it. It's sad, because the fandom consists of that, and only that right now. To me, the people out there who're struggling to make their own tokusatsu are the super die-hard fans, because they're inspired by tokusatsu to make tokusatsu that they feel is the kind of tokusatsu that they want to watch. Then there are "certain toku fans" out there who just bicker about that and talk about like, "Oh, well I could make a better tokusatsu." I ask them "Then why don't you?" They go like, "Oh, well I don't have the money, or I don't have the time." It's excuses after excuses after excuses, and that's what really pisses me off about the "fandom." They'll talk about Kamen Rider and all that stuff, but when somebody makes more effort to make something different, it doesn't get recognized. That's why whenever I see somebody making an independent production, I'm like, "Okay, I'm gonna bookmark this video." It's gonna be the same thing every year: There's gonna be a new Rider, a new Sentai, a new Ultraman, and a new Garo. That's it, it's only those four. In the '80s and '90s, there was an explosion of tokusatsu where there were lots of different ones. With the way the economy is right now, there's not enough money being put into entertainment, so there's only a few brands. Japanator: A few years ago, you and most of Garage Hero's members reviewed the Super Hero Wars movies. That said, how bad do you think Super Hero Wars GP is going to be? Bueno: Yonemura's writing it, so I don't think it's going to be all that good. Again, this is one of the things that I was talking about right here. Rather than talking about original tokusatsu, here we are talking about Kamen Rider and Toei. This is what the "fandom" has gone down to-- they have to talk about how good or bad something is, rather than doing something about it. That's what's kind of bothering me about the whole thing with tokusatsu and "tokusatsu fandom." That's why I want to do something about it-- that's why I'm making original content and that's why I'm making the kind of toku that I want to make. Because Super Hero Taisen was shitty, that made me even more motivated to make my own tokusatsu, and that's the kind of mindset that people got to get into. Rather than bitching about something at home in front of a computer, they got to get out of the house; buy some tools, buy all the resources they need, and start making their own tokusatsu. They don't have to, but if there's a lot of people saying, "I could do a better job," they should really step up to the plate and prove it. This is for all the "fanboys:" Shirakura, who is originally the Producer of Agito and Ryuki, is the owner of Toei now. He runs the company, and officially does not give a shit about anything the fans think about Kamen Rider-- that's how jaded he is. That's why Super Hero Taisen was made. He had this brainchild of, "Oh, if I slap Kamen Rider and Super Sentai on it, then people are going to like it-- even if it's a shitty movie." So he hired Yonemura to write this really shitty script, and what happened? It was a shitty movie, but the fans ate it up. All of the interviews that they have went like, "Aw, it was great to see all of the heroes on screen," but they're not going to talk about how shitty the movie is, because that's how Japanese culture is. They do not talk straight like that; they want to be polite. I remember watching Super Hero Taisen Z with Fernando, Daryl, and all them in the movie theater. Then there was this kid right beside me, and I was like, "Hey, you like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai?" He was like, "Yeah." The mom's all like, "We actually got tickets from the Producer, Shirakura." I thought to myself, "Well, it's too bad they're not refundable." They watched the movie, and then the kid was bored out of his mind. He was twisting and turning in his seat, and the mom was like, "For God's sake, sit straight." Then he yawned like five times during some scenes, and I watched carefully. When the movie was over, guess what the kid said. Japanator: He hated the movie? Bueno: No, he said, "That was awesome!" Japanator: WHAT?! Bueno: See, this is what I'm talking about. It's fucking brainwashing, man. All these kids are being brainwashed into thinking, "because there's all these superheroes on screen, it's gonna be good," and it's not. Even though they subconsciously know, and their body tells them, "This movie is shit," they're brainwashed into saying, "That was awesome." This is why tokusatsu sucks right now. Shirakura only cares about two things: Selling toys, so he can get his Bandai check, and selling tickets, so he can get his Toei check. That's his way of thinking in a business. Japanator: So when did Shirakura become Toei's owner? Bueno: I don't know; I don't care. Bueno with Koichi Sakamoto at an Aka x Pink promotional event Okay, here's the two ways of thinking in tokusatsu business: You have Shirakura who's like, "If I put Kamen Rider on it, I could sell toys. If I put Sentai on it, I could sell toys and make money." Then you have the Sakamoto way of thinking where it's like, "I can shoot some cool action utilizing the toys in a way that'll get people to want to buy it, and that'll sell toys." Guess what? That works! With W, OOO, Fourze, and Wizard even, he uses the toys, and it sells. Plus, it has a cool action scene, so it sells the DVDs and tickets. I watched the Fourze movie three times, and it works. At the end of it all, Sakamoto is like a big kid, so he understands what the kids like. The Twelve Horoscopes fight scene from the Fourze movie is probably the best tokusatsu fight scene to date, because a.) it sells the toy, b.) it's a cool fight scene, and c.) each time he uses the toy, it has meaning. I highly recommended movie for anybody who wants to know how to shoot a good tokusatsu fight scene or movie. There's that certain group of tokusatsu fans who're like, "It's all about the toys; I don't like it! It should be about the suits and the story." Little do they know, if you don't have the toys, how are you supposed to make tokusatsu? They'll be like, "Well, there's Godzilla." Godzilla's fandom is fairly big because of the fact it was the first one. But if you want something like Kamen Rider, how are you going to make a decent fight scene without any toys? Basically, if people want Kamen Rider to not be based on the toys, that means that you gotta take away the henshin belt and the suit. If you take away the belt, you have no suit and no Rider, so all of these fans are contradicting themselves. When you take a look at the action in Gun Caliber, what do you see? Japanator: I see that he has a henshin device that's a phone, a pair of guns, and a suit. Bueno: What's the main thing about the guns? Japanator: They can switch through different types of bullets. Bueno: Exactly! Why do you think that they have all of these accessories with Kamen Rider belts? Japanator: Merchandising. Bueno: It's not only merchandising, but it also helps with the action. When you have Gaia Memories that are able to have different attributes to both sides of Double, that switches the action. In the fight scene in the Fourze movie when he uses all 40 Switches, he uses them to counterattack each of the Horoscopes. Now you take a look at the Wizard movie, he failed to do all this. Sakamoto wasn't part of it, it was Ishigaki, he's an Action Director at Toei-- he's been doing stuff ever since Exceedraft. Visually, he's a good Action Director, but as far as concepts go, he's not a good Action Choreographer. He tried to do the Sakamoto thing with the Wizard movie, but it didn't work out. Most likely because you need time to choreograph something like that, and it was something he probably didn't have. To be able to choreograph a good fight scene, it's not just filming the suits and action anymore, it's being able to utilize the props and the character itself. That's the key to making a good tokusatsu fight scene. Japanator: Do you think that your work could inspire others to create their own toku projects? Bueno: Yeah, I hope so. I'm not saying that Gun Caliber is some sort of game changer, but Gun Caliber is the first independently funded tokusatsu film to be shot entirely in Tokyo, Japan; starring, directed, and produced by foreigner. If there's any other movies that could say "they've done that," go ahead. Show me who's done that, and I'll shut up. As far as I know, nobody's done that here. Nobody's had the balls to do it, and I have the balls! Japanator: Aside from tokusatsu and over-the-top productions like Gun Caliber, Hayate, and Yakuzambie, what other types of mediums does Garage Hero plan to tackle in the future? Bueno: We wanna do more stuff like tutorials, because the tokusatsu community right now consists of a lot of people talking about tokusatsu, and not making tokusatsu, You have a lot of people who write fanfics, short stories, or they'll create their own manga. The fact of the matter is that they really really want to make a tokusatsu, like a henshin hero and stuff like that. When they're faced with the dilemma of "Oh, I don't know how," "It cost too much money," or "There's no tutorial," that's where we hope to come in. We're going to make a tutorial series that's going to give people the basic know-how to make to make tokusatsu-- just like how we did. We didn't know what the hell we were doing, but we went on and did it. Then it worked, people like it. It took a long time, and a lot of resources and self study to be able shoot that thing. It took two years to shoot it, but the fact of the matter is that it all boils down to having the guts to do it. For a lot of people, they seem to lack the courage to shoot something like this-- even if it's just a short, because they have to worry about scheduling, paying for people's transportation, and food. That's the kind of things that people don't see behind the scenes-- you gotta do all that stuff. I think when people learn, "Okay, you need to do this and this, but you can add a little bit of you own flavor to it," that's when it becomes a little more interactive, and people want to give it a try. They won't be so intimidated. Right now, if you take a look at YouTube videos of learning how to sculpt a clay head or helmet, it's really intimidating, because the guy's really good. With our video series, we hope to be able to explain techniques, and how to make tokusatsu in the span of a five-minute video that gets straight to the point of what tools you need, what you should do, what to do afterwards, and some shorts to go with that. For example, I have a two/one-minute Gun Caliber action short, and then we focus on his mask or helmet, and then we'll have a tutorial video explaining"Okay, this is how the helmet is made."  I'm planning to produce another series with a person named Max Ellis, so we're hoping to produce more stuff this year for Garage Hero, and more web series. Since everybody automatically thinks that if you say "Bueno," it equals action, I'm planning this series that's in the style of a fighting game. It's gonna be a one-minute, or two-minute fight scene maybe at the most-- even just 30 seconds of two people duking it out fighting game style. It'll just be a bunch of zany stereotypical fighting game characters, and they'll have finishers. It'll be a fun series that'll help us get those creative juices flowing-- aside from just shooting tokusatsu. It'll be a little different, but still in familiar grounds.  Japanator: Speaking of tokusatsu tutorials, do you plan to cover any other aspects outside of making costumes and props? Bueno: Of course. With tokusatsu, there's a lot of areas to cover. For example, cinematography (like how to shoot a tokusatsu fight scene), there's certain techniques that they used from all the way back in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. During those times, they had a bunch of shooting techniques to make people look like they are jumping higher than they are, to make people look like they're kicking high in the air when they're really just a few feet off the ground, and to make monsters look bigger. They didn't have CG, but they made them look huge, and the people look small. It's a matter of being able to how to use your camera, your lens, and how to edit-- also cinematography. We're gonna cover a lot of those aspects as well.  A lot of people are just all like, "Oh. Are you going to teach fight choreography?" Everybody's going to choreograph differently, but we could teach the basics. I'm not making their heroes, so only they're going to know how to choreograph the action for their hero. More than choreography, we're going to focus on the cinematography, and how to Action Direct, and not how to Action Choreograph. We plan to teach CG as well, and the different types of tokusatsu shoots. You have the kaiju shoot, the hero action, and all that stuff, so we'll definitely cover all that.  Bueno with Freddy Wong at YouTube Space Tokyo Japanator: Could you tell us about your process in how you improved in creating tokusatsu hero and monster suits? Bueno: Well, you got to remember Gun Caliber was my first attempt, and I'm still in the learning process. I'm still learning stuff from people, and trying stuff out while buying new materials-- and see what works for decent prices. It's all a lot trial and error. In terms of getting better, you just gotta do it. With tokusatsu, you just have to jump into it-- that's the best way. Do a little bit of research, but jump into things. If you mess up, don't worry about it, because that's what helps you improve. If you mess up something, or find a different way of doing things afterwards, learn from that. Don't just be a downer on yourself, you gotta be able to learn from your mistakes. You got to fail, in order to be able to get better. You got to jump into things expecting to fail, but then figure out, "If I fail, how can I get out of that?" That's one of the key things that making tokusatsu is all about, and that's one of the things that I did. Japanator: So what can you tell us about Garage Hero's future? Bueno: Garage Hero's still an infant, and we only have 1,470 something subscribers. We need to shoot that up to at least 5,000 to get the views in, and more support from YouTube. In order to do that, we need to make more content that's gonna get people to come back, and want to subscribe.  We got a lot of content planned for this year, and we hope to update our channel a bit more frequently with this next G-Rated series coming up, Hayate, and that's gonna be a local hero for Asakusa. It's probably going to be like six episodes, and I think each episode'll be to be two to ten minutes long, or somewhere around that range-- it depends on how much action we have in each episode. I'm currently producing a tokusatsu tutorial series, and it's going to give people the basic fundamentals that they need to learn how to create, shoot, and produce tokusatsu-- all within the span of five minutes each. The least I'll have is five minutes to certain each step, we'll probably have longer episodes, depending on certain topics. It'll cover everything from creating the suit, certain camera angles that you should use for shooting tokusatsu, the kind of camera lenses you should use, how to pitch your idea, choreographing a fight scene, and all that stuff. Then we plan to shoot a Web series of action shorts that are done in the style of a fighting game, so I definitely need more suggestions on what to shoot for those. From left to right: Akiba Idol Mao Makabe, Bueno, and AV Idol Fuzuki If somebody likes certain videos, subscribes to our channel, and shares our content, that means that the more Garage Hero goes viral, the more content we're able to make, because YouTube pushes our stuff out there as recommended features. Sharing our videos, liking our videos, and pushing our channel out there is key to helping us make more original tokusatsu. Support from the fandom is very important to us, and we're also open to stuff that the fans want to see. When I say, "be sure to comment, share, and like our videos," I'm not saying it each time for the sake of saying it, because that's what helps us make more content. When people say, "We want to see more Gun Caliber, I will respond to that. If people want to say, "We want to see more of what Hayate can do," of course, I'm going to read that. I read the comments, and take the time. About the YouTube thing, anybody that can interact with our channel more, and can share our channel and content will help make it viral. That helps us, because it'll let us make more original tokusatsu for you guys to enjoy. Bueno with Kenneth Duria (Kamen Rider 555's Mr. J/Crocodile Orphnoch) Japanator: Once you hit 5,000 subscribers, do you plan to utilize any funding sites like Indiegogo? Bueno: Yeah, we hope to get enough people to fund us through Indiegogo to help fund the release of Gun Caliber on DVD, plus help future projects as well. I have a couple projects that I want to pitch out there, and hopefully, people'll catch wind of them and support our work. Japanator: When you release Gun Caliber on DVD, will it be available worldwide? Bueno: Definitely, I want to show this to the whole world. Garage Hero wants to be able to pride itself as the premier independent tokusatsu resource in Tokyo run by foreigners. Anybody who comes here can come to us for any questions they might have about making tokusatsu or anything like that, and we could fill them in. We want to be able to make that claim. Japanator: Do you have any plans to release Gun Caliber-related merchandise (such as a figure or his guns)? Bueno: Probably nothing on that level, but at least something like t-shirts, travel mugs, and basically stuff that you find on Redbubble. I'm designing some stuff for Redbubble right now, so hopefully some people'll buy that merchandise. Do you remember Vector, the company in Gun Caliber? Japanator: Yes. Bueno: Basically, it's going to be like Vector merchandise, because they're kinda like Smart Brain, Yggdrasill, and Zect. I'm gonna have a lot of merchandise that'll be like character merch, roleplay kind of merch that you could buy, and kind of roleplay in the world of Gun Caliber without having the toys; although I know a lot of people who want the toys. Japanator: What about Hayate: Asakusa's Ninja Hero? Bueno: We'll need to establish a bit of a fandom first on that. Since that's for kids, we'll most likely have to make more merchandise that's for kids. If I could get funded by Bandai, then by all means, I'll have them make some SofuBi. You know SofuBi? Japanator: What's SofuBi? Bueno: SofuBi is like those plastic figurines. Look up SofuBi on YouTube, and you'll see the figurines that people make. Bandai makes SofuBi figures, short term for soft vinyl figures, and those are famous among the kaiju figures, the collectibles Ultraman figures, and stuff like that. For example, the Ultraman Ginga Spark Dolls are all SofuBi. If somebody was willing to make a Gun Caliber SofuBi figure, I would totally be all for that. It's mostly going to be stuff like stickers for now, like a Hayate stickers, iPhone cases, and pillows. Again, this stuff you could buy off of Redbubble, so that's probably going to be the stuff that Hayate'll come of it. Japanator: Can you give us an estimate date on when Hayate's first episode'll be released? Bueno: It'll probably be released somewhere around either the end of March, the beginning of April, or maybe mid April. Again, that's just an estimate, but hopefully we can get it to you at that time, so be sure to like, subscribe, share our channel, and stay tune for Hayate. People can see a teaser on our channel right now. Bueno at The ABCs of Tetsudon screening party Japanator: Do you have any final words that you'd like to say to the readers? Bueno: Making tokusatsu can be very intimidating, because it requires time, money, effort, and resources, but you don't know that until you try it. The best way to do it is to do your research, and get into it. I feel that a lot of people are always intimidated by it. They'll be like, "Wow, tokusatsu looks expensive; I don't know if I could do that." Don't get me wrong, I've seen a lot of indie tokusatsu productions that have that problem where it's shot well, but it looks like crap. The suit will look good, but the show will suck, or the show will look good, but the suit will suck. It's either one of those two. You gotta be able to balance it out by having a good suit with good action, a good story to keep it interesting, and you got to know who your audience is-- that's very important. We have a lot of content coming out this year, and we're gonna have a tokusatsu tutorial series later on in the year. We're shooting Hayate, a local hero for Asakusa. We're going to be having a fighting game style kind of Web series, so be sure to rate, link, subscribe, and share all of our videos and channel with all of your friends. Our goal is to get our subs up to 5,000 this year, so we hope to achieve that, and hopefully, everyone can help us with that.
Bueno Part 3 photo
Bueno reveals the tokusatsu industry's dark secrets
After a long and perilous journey, we've reached the end of our long interview with Bueno. To close things off, the man shares with us his plans for the future, along with his own thoughts on the tokusatsu industry and a cert...

Happy Tenth Anniversary, Mahou Sentai Magiranger!

Feb 13 // Salvador GRodiles
特撮落書き詰め by take 我ら、魔神の王となれ by Lynx 戦隊つめあわせ by SILVIA マジ夫婦 by ビーノ 魔法 by ときえだ 勇気と希望の魔法使い by hiro 【特撮詰め】魔法+特命[バディロイド擬人]+wizard by クサ★審神者♀ 「魔法+特命」黄と金と銀 by クサ★審神者♀ ナイとメア by IWA 緑のあにき by hiro 一目惚れ by hiro 父(修正) by bump 集結 スーパー戦隊ロボ by 佐藤@コミティアQ18a スーパーアニキタイム by 風間 マージマジ!by 津島直人 インフェル雛 by ヨリヲ 戦隊色々詰め by 春眞ナクト ニチアサ過去絵まとめ by 死神 マジ! by 猛禽パンチ マージ☆マジーロ by Izumi Rion うちゅうのほうそくがみだれる!by 秋秀川小早 ぼくらの列車王 by 秋秀川小早 メア by らいすた マジレン ワイバーン擬人化 by ドライマンゴー ファイヤーカイザー by ロボ部のクロ マジキング by BUTA ナイとメア by らいすた 太陽につつまれる by 蒼馬
Magiranger photo
Magi Magi Magiro times Ten!
Today may be Friday the 13th, but that doesn’t mean that we’re in for a heap of bad luck. In fact, Mahou Sentai Magiranger tenth anniversary has landed on Feb. 13, 2015, which means that magic triumphs over random...

We Chat With Gun Caliber's Bueno: Ninjas, Zombies, and Hardships

Feb 05 // Salvador GRodiles
Japanator: When Gun Caliber made his debut on YouTube, he appeared in a documentary called Stray Bullet: A True Superhero Story. That said, was Gun Caliber originally going to be documentary-like film, or was Stray Bullet meant to promote the true film that you would eventually make? Bueno: Gun Caliber was originally the movie that I wanted to make. The only reason why Stray Bullet came out first was because at that time, there weren't any stuntmen that would be able to help out with any of the action. I never done a movie before, so tackling Gun Caliber head-on would probably result in a crappy film. I was glad that I did Stray Bullet first, because of the fact that it got me a little bit more familiar with the equipment, and how to edit. Since it was a documentary, there's leeway for being able to shoot the way I did. Stray Bullet was very experimental-- not that Gun Caliber wasn't, since it was experimental as well. Stray Bullet was supposed to be Gun Caliber, but we didn't have enough resources at the time, I decided to make it a documentary. Japanator: Seeing that Gun Caliber had a few tokusatsu references (such as Dr. Death being a reference to Professor Shinigami from Kamen Rider), what other mediums inspired you to create the movie? Bueno: There's a lot of bases that inspired me to make this movie. Two of the major bases are obviously Kamen Rider and this one comedian called Ken Shimura. I don't know if you're familiar with him. Japanator: First time I've heard of him. Bueno: Ken Shimura is probably Japan's King of Comedy. He's basically like Japan's Benny Hill. Back in the 80s, he was Japan's most popular comedian. A lot of foreigners won't know really much about him-- especially those who don't live in Japan. Hell, sometimes the people who live in Japan'll know his face but won't know his name. He's one of the really really big inspirations for Gun Caliber, because his comedy is a lot of stupid sex jokes, kiddie humor, all of that stuff. If you look him up on YouTube, you'll find a lot of his clips. if you take a look at some of his work, you'll see the inspiration that went into Gun Caliber there. Mystery Men inspired Gun Caliber's world, and also this comic called The Boys-- everybody should read it, it's a great comic. The Boys is about a group of people who regulate superhero activity. Also, Watchmen is another thing that inspired Gun Caliber as well. There's so many things. Also, there's this show that I watched a while back called No Heroics, it's a British comedy about superheroes who hang out in a superhero bar. That was another show that inspired Gun Caliber. Japanator: I find it very impressive that you're both Gun Caliber's Director and main character, Bueno. So what were some of the challenges that you encountered during the making of the film? Bueno: The challenges was the scheduling-- everyone underestimates that fact when they say they want to shoot a movie or anything like that. Even if you weren't on a budget but still had money, you probably shoot earlier so that you can get a lot done quicker in a day. And that's what I did, I would say, "Okay, we're starting at seven." Everybody would say, "Oh my god, why are you going to start at seven?" Because we're shooting action-- action takes a lot longer than shooting drama. Scheduling was one of the really tough parts about it. For every person who couldn't make it to set, I would have to try and call five other people to replace that one person. If person number two can't come, then I got to call person number three. If person number three can't come, then I got to call person number four, and so on and so on. Sometimes I would have to make 80 calls in one day just to replace three people. It works, because it's part of that drive. People who usually hear, "I can't make it," they'll automatically give up. They'll be like: "Oh this person shoot today, because this person can't come." You got to be persistent, you got to stick with your guns on stuff-- you can't give in so easily. That's what I did, I would just keep calling and calling. If somebody couldn't make it to a shoot, I would call and then replace them. Scheduling is really really important, and you got to have a backup plan each time too. If you can't go to a certain location, if you don't have somebody who can't make it to set, you got to have a contingency plan each time. One time there was a point where someone couldn't make it to set, and I had to call ten people the day before-- just to find one actress to replace her. You got to be able to go with the flow sometimes, and be able to know what to do-- always have a back up. That's one of the big hurdles you have to get over when you're shooting something like this. Japanator: Back in October 2011, Gun Caliber made a cameo appearance in an indie tokusatsu series called Battle Hero Absolute. So how did you meet the show's team? Bueno: I met up with Fernando, and then he said that "Jay's coming to Japan."  I was like, "Yeah, I'll meet him." Then I met him, and he didn't understand the whole deal with waking up at 5:00 a.m. to take the first train to location, and shoot until sundown. It was basically having to put up with a lot of whining, but we shot it, and finished it. I guess I can't complain. Japanator: When you were shooting Yakuzambie, what was it like to work with the YouTube Space's Guillermo del Toro-like set? Bueno: It's very small and was a pain in the ass. The level of Japanese YouTubers is very very low. If you take a look at Japanese YouTubers' channels, all you'll notice is that it's people eating food or playing cellphone games. A lot of the people who run the Space work used to work in the film industry, so they're relegated to shoot that kind of stuff. When I walked in, and they saw Gun Caliber, they were like, "Oh my god! This is one of the best things ever!" They asked me, "Can you shoot something like that at the Space?" I said, "I can't shoot nude girls or anything like that, but I could shoot action." They were like, "Yeah! Yeah! Shoot Action!"  They had this set, and they told me, "Please use the set, Bueno, because all people are gonna do with the set is eat stuff and play games." That's exactly what they did with the set and so we're all like, "Okay. We gotta put this thing to use!" I came up with this idea about a cursed house, and people who died there get brought back to life-- Yakuzambie! It's a Yakuza boss' house inherited to his only daughter. She's a sex maniac who wants to make Sakuma, Kimura's character, into her sex slave. Then zombies appear! Okay there. That's the story! The set was really really small, because it was a small space. I wish it was more customizable, but it had a good aesthetic. It was a cool-looking set. Japanator: Do you ever plan to go back to Yakuzambie's story? Bueno: Perhaps. There's actually somebody who's shown interest in making a feature film of Yakuzambie, but I don't know if I could make a 70 minute film of that. I could try, but only time will tell. Japanator: During The Making of Yakuzambie, you mentioned that Gun Caliber was improvised. So what techniques did you use to prevent the production from falling apart? Bueno: You just got to keep it fun, you know. With these movies, because of the fact that they aren't epic movies at all, you just got to have fun with it. In the end, you're just making a fun movie. If you don't have fun, then the people watching it don't have fun either. That's probably why Gaion Sigma flopped. Japanator: Can you tell us about your experience with Gaion Sigma? Bueno: Basically, somebody who saw Gun Caliber and some of my other shorts on YouTube got in contact with me. That's when the boss of  Zen Pictures Yatsurugi Company invited me to be the Director for Gaion Sigma, and I was like, "holy shit." I think that Gaion is an awesome-looking suit, but I thought that it was a waste that it was shot really really crappy with the spin-off that it had before. I want do something about it is, so I jumped at the chance. How many chances will a foreigner get to be a Director of a tokusatsu movie? Honestly, can you name any? Japanator: Nope. Bueno: Yup. That's why I jumped at the chance. When the film started, there's a lot of Directors in the company that gave me the aura of "I've been working in this company for ten years, and all of a sudden, some gaijin kid who could barely talk Japanese or can't even read the script took my job?! Fuck that!" These guys were in the production solely for the sake of messing up my shoot. They basically sabotaged the movie and got me fired three times. They got me fired, and then afterwards, I showed them the edited footage, and they were like, "We need Bueno back. The action is going to be terrible if he isn't here." Then they brought me back on, and I shot the best scene in the movie. The scene that I really really wanted to do was the Kaijin Matsuri. If anyone watches the movie, they'll all be like, "Oh my god. That is the only good scene in the movie." The reason why is because nobody stood in my way that day. On that day, I told everybody to shut up and let me shoot the way that I wanted to shoot. It worked. Afterwards, we ran out of time because there's a lot of people who would waste time on the shoot. We had to extend it to one day, but the boss had a stipulation: "We're not going to shoot it in Asakusa, we're going to shoot in Chiba." And that's why the ending makes no sense, because the boss shot it that way. He's the Producer, so what ever he says is absolute. If he says,"We got to shoot in Chiba," all of the sudden, even though we shot the movie all in Asakusa (which is two hours away from Chiba), we got to shoot it in Chiba, because he said so. I must say that he's not really the brightest of people, but he's the guy who calls the shots. There's nothing you can do about that. Japanator: Speaking of Yatsurugi Company, what's the true story behind Raidenmaru's creation? Bueno: A long long time ago, I wanted to make an Asakusa superhero, because a lot of the people who watched Gun Caliber really really liked it (there's even some kids who like it), but the parents would be like, "It's a very funny movie, but could you make something for the kids?" And I'm like, "I'll give it a shot, but I don't know if I could do it." I decided to make a superhero for the kids, and I met up with a guy in Asakusa-- let's call him Mr. Y, because his name starts with a "Y."  Anyway, Mr. Y wanted to make a superhero as well, so we were going to make a superhero called Raijin, which is based on the God of Thunder who stands in the gate of Kaminarimon in Asakusa. He basically took my idea and made it his, but I didn't care, because my idea was different. I heard a lot of rumors about this guy, and I felt that I couldn't trust him. I decided to let him be, and do my own thing instead. He really wasn't happy about this at all. He was so pissed that he went to the Yatsurugi Company behind my back, and pitched the idea of Raijin to the company. This was a bad idea, because the boss of Yatsurugi Company is all about ripping off ideas. Basically, Mr. Y pitched to the company, "So I got this idea, since it's my idea, could I have all the rights to this?" Then the boss of Yatsurugi Company is all like, "Wait, so you want us to make, shoot, and produce this, but you get to keep the rights?" Mr. Y is like, "Yeah, cuz it's my idea!" Then the Yatsurugi Company's like, "Are you a fucking ass? We're just going to make this ourselves." Mr. Y was like, "Okay. Okay, I understand." Then Mr. Y goes home, and then I get called up to the boss' office. Then they said, "Yeah, we don't need that Mr. Y. Fuck Mr. Y! Bueno, would you like to work on this Asakusa hero?" Then I said, "but I wanted to work on an Asakusa hero a long time ago." The boss said, "In that case, you're fired. We can't have two people making the same Asakusa hero in the same company." I said, "It's a little abrupt though. You didn't even give me some time to think about it." The boss said, "Then take some time to think about it." Then he sent me on my way, and I get a call from my Director and says, "Yeah, Bueno, sorry but you're fired." I said, "But they told me to think about it though! The Director said, Yeah, but you're fired." And that's what happen. Next thing you know, two months later, Raidenmaru comes out.  Japanator: Did your concepts from Raijin carry over to Hayate: Asakusa's Ninja Hero?  Bueno: Not really, because I released my first teaser of Hayate before Raidenmaru had its first stage show. Japanator: If Hayate does well with the kids, would you do another season down the road? Bueno: Most definitely. I wanna kind of be like James Gunn. He did Tromeo and Juliet, which is an adult b-flick. Then he did something for the kids like Guardians of the Galaxy. I want to be able to do both, so I could have a good range of stuff. Robert Rodriguez is the same; he made Desperado, one of the coolest action films of all time. He did Machete, Planet Terror, and Sin City; but he also did Spy Kids and Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Again, to be a good Director, you got to have range, and I want to be able to have that. So if people want more Hayate, I'm going to give it to them. Bueno with Saki Otsuka Japanator: Did you work as an Action Director in the AV industry before you formed Garage Hero? Bueno: No. This was actually while I was editing Gun Caliber. A lot of my work in the AV industry actually helped me push things along with Gun Caliber as well. Being an adult erotic tokusatsu action comedy, you kind of need those connections. It's kind of cool that you can push it out to a big adult crowd-- even to a few junior high school students that caught wind of the movie. I guess Gun Caliber's crowd is mostly aimed at junior high school students than adults-- but adults get a kick out of it too. Being able to shoot action and make an AV idol look like an action star is definitely a plus. It gives the actresses a lot more confidence, and the managers are happy too, because it adds an extra skill onto their girl's resume. Working in the AV industry as an Action Director is definitely a good thing. I get to be surrounded by lots of beautiful women too, so that's also a plus. I met some really really nice girls like Amami Tsubasa, Saki Otsuka, and Mai Miori-- oh my god, she's super awesome. Japanator: Earlier in the interview, you mentioned that Japan's economy is still in the pits. That being said, did Japan's current economical state influence Gun Caliber's premise?  Bueno: Yes. Gun Caliber is like my views on Japanese society in the guise of tokusatsu. All the stuff from the drugs, prostitution, and the scandals were all things that I've seen over here-- and in Canada as well. It's stuff that I know, and I mixed it with tokusatsu. And that's how Gun Caliber turned out. Japanator: So does that mean that you're actually like Soma Kusanagi in real life? Bueno: No. I'm not like Soma Kusanagi in real life. A lot of people think that Bueno equals Soma Kusanagi, and that's not the case. Contrary to popular belief, even though people have seen me with lots of women, even though people have seen me do lots of comedy, and have seen way I speak, I'm not Soma Kusanagi. I think it's going to be the same thing as Bruce Campbell being told that he's Ash all the time. He hates it when people call him Ash! I think that people are going to walk up to me and say, "Hey Gun Caliber," from now on, and it's going to stick. I'm not Soma Kusanagi, I'm not Gun Caliber, I'm Bueno, If anything, Soma Kusanagi is based off of my brother. My brother Anthony is one of the people who the movie is dedicated to in the beginning-- the other is my aunt. My brother was the kind of guy who worked at a porno video rental store, and after work, he would do rock concerts, or work at a bar where they had rock concerts-- it was a very dingy dirty bar. He would have to deal with customers, he would get into fights, and all that stuff. He would come home with cuts and bruises on his hand or face. And I would be like "What the fuck happened to you?" He was like, "Ugh, a day at work." So that's who Soma Kusanagi is. He's basically the working man. He's the guy who would come home all beaten up, but it would just be another day on the job-- much like Hellboy. That's who Kusanagi is based off of. More like he's based off of my brother, Kenny Powers from Eastbound & Down, and Ricky from Trailer Park Boys. But yeah, me and Soma are two different people.  Tetsudon and Garage Hero's members at a private screeing of Gun Caliber in Asakusa-Bashi Well, folks; we've reached the end of this post, which means that it's time for a quick heads-up on what's to come. For the third and final part of this segment, Bueno'll talk about Garage Hero's future plans, along with his views on the tokusatsu industry. Things are going to get even more real, as Bueno's story hits us with the cold hard truth about the medium's current state. Who knows, you might come across some motivating words as well.
Bueno Part 2 photo
Bueno's story is about to get real
Welcome to the second part of our interview with the one and only Bueno. In this installment, the man talks about his experience with creating tokusatsu and shooting porn. On top of that, we get to learn the dark secrets behi...

Wota Senshi Center photo
Wota Senshi Center

Wota Senshi Center features an idol group-themed costumed hero


Tokusatsu is about to be revolutionized, people!
Feb 05
// Salvador GRodiles
I may not be a huge fan of idol groups around these parts, but I'm always interested in mediums that love to try something different. In this case, Garage Hero's Daryl Deloreyes is creating his own tokusatsu project called Wo...
Anime at the Alamo photo
Anime at the Alamo

Live in San Antonio? Come check out Alamo Drafthouse's weekly toku screening event


And anime too
Feb 03
// Salvador GRodiles
It's been known for a good while that most Alamo Drafthouse Cinema hold special anime screening events, and San Antonio's Westlakes theater is no stranger to this feature. Aside from anime, San Antonio's Anime at the Alamo ev...

We Chat With Gun Caliber's Bueno: Wushu, Porn Stars, and making it in Japan

Jan 27 // Salvador GRodiles
Japanator: Greetings, Bueno. Thank you for taking the time to let us interview you. So to start things off: When you first decided to get into making films, what made you move to Japan? Bueno: I wanted to go to Japan because I've liked Japan ever since I was a little kid. And I think that a lot of people talk about Japan being being harsh, and I remember when I first came here, all I had was $700.00. It was harsh, and the economy in Japan is still in the pits, but I knew that I still wanted to be here. In Canada at that time, I wasn't really having a good relationship with my family, so I decided to go all the way to Japan. I wanted a change of scenery. I just wanted a little bit of a change in my life, and I decided that moving to Japan was a big step. I needed to try to do things on my own for a change. It was a really really big step. It was a big decision to do that-- to move from one country to another. I'm thankful for all of the friends like the Wushu team I used to be on-- they were so supportive of me. Japanator: Since you studied Wushu, did your experience with it help you with your stunt work? Bueno: At first I thought it would, but they're worlds apart. There's a visceral difference between Wushu and action. It helps a little. It gives you the basic idea, but doing action and Wushu are two totally different things. Japanator: What's the difference between learning a fighting style and learning to do action scenes? Bueno: In a sense, they are both the same. But at the same time, they're different. When you learn a fighting style, you learn your basic punches, kicks, and stuff like that, and transcends into action. The thing is though, there is no camera when you're actually fighting, and there is a certain way to sell the action when you're shooting a fighting scene. It also depends on what kind of lenses you use, and what angles you shoot it from. That will determine if the punch looks like it's connecting or not, and sometimes you have to do it again. Japanator: How did you end up forming Garage Hero? Bueno: To be honest, it's basically me gathering a bunch of people I know and say, "Hey, let's shoot this!" At first, they were really skeptical, because I never shot a feature before. And when I told them it was a feature, they would always ask the same thing: "When are you going to finish this?" And I said: "Honestly, I don't know." Each time I edited something, I show them the results afterwards and they're all like, "Oh my god. This is really really good!" And they've been followed me ever since. Japanator: When you were first working on Yakuzambie, how did you meet Keisaku Kimura and Aimi Sekiguchi? Bueno: I met Aimi through the YouTube Space, because I use the YouTube Space from time to time. They have these get-together at the end of each month called YouTube Happy Hour. And I met her at YouTube Happy Hour one time and asked her, "Would you like to do some action some time?" She was like, "Yeah, I'll give it a try." She turned out to be really good at it. I trained her for three hours before shooting Yakuzambie and she did an awesome job. I was really impressed. She needs more training obviously, but she has her character down, and she could do the action. All she does before was gravure and idol stuff on her YouTube channel. Everyone who would just shoot her as cute, but she ends up being in my movie and turns into an action star. And that's why I would like to work with her again. For Kimura, he basically messaged me on Facebook one time, because I'm part of this group called Tetsudon, and he's also a member of Tetsudon. He saw Gun Caliber and thought, "Oh my god! This movie is amazing!" Then we had lunch and we talked over about things we could do, and I mentioned Yakuzambie to him, and he was super interested in it. He's a seasoned actor. Aimi did a bit stage acting but he's seasoned , so he was able to teach her certain stuff and techniques. They kind of learned from each other. That's why there's a good chemistry between those two on set and off set. They're a good team, and I'm really happy to be working with the both of them. Bueno with Uta Kohaku Japanator: Seeing that Gun Caliber featured a few AV idols, what lead to you making connections with them? Bueno: I met the girls in Gun Caliber through Takao Nakano, who's the owner of Daikaiju Salon. He's also the Writer of Ultraman Ginga S, and he's the pachinko guy (the fat guy with glasses) at the beginning of my movie. He introduced me to Miho and Naomi. I met Uta Kohaku, who sings the theme song "Shining" for Gun Caliber, though an AV company that I worked for one time-- I was an Action Director for that AV company. There's this one group called Milky Pop Generation, a music label that hire AV idols to sing. They have singles, music videos, and all that stuff. That's when I heard "Shining" off of Uta Kohaku's single. I was like, "Okay, I got to use this song!" I contacted her manager, and her manager told me to contact Milky Pop. I talked to Milky Pop and I bought the song. We did a hero show at one of the Milky Pop events with Gun Caliber and she sang "Shining" while Gun Caliber dances. It was a fun show, and I made a lot of connections through that. I made connections with the managers from other agencies like At Hunnies, Hustler, Aloha Pro, and Dino. Those are the agencies that I talk with the manages to see if I could use their girls in future productions. And that's how I got my connection with the AV industry. It's basically meeting a lot of managers, productions and showing them what I shoot. It works out nicely, and a lot of people love my work, and that's how I got a job in shooting the AV industry. Japanator: Back in October 2012, you announced that Koichi Terasawa/Rider Chips' Bassist was composing Gun Caliber's soundtrack. That being said, what's the story behind you meeting him? Bueno: A long time ago when I first came to Japan, I saw him at Double Hero Festival in Tokyo Dome with a Goranger shirt on. I went, "Excuse me, are you a part of Rider Chips?" He's all like, "Yeah man. How'd you know that?" I was like, "I saw your DVDs!" Terasawa said, "Aw man, that's crazy. What are you doing here?" I then said, "I'm checking out the event." Tersawa asked, "Are you Japanese?" I replied, "Naw, I'm Canadian!" We talked and talked from that time on. A few years later, I found him on Facebook, and I'm like, "Okay. I made this movie, do you think you could take a look at what I made so far?" Terasawa said, "Okay. Let's meet up!" So I showed him the movie, and he's all like, "Bueno! I can't believe you did this. This is nuts! This is crazy! How'd you do this?!" I told him, "It's a long long story." I was all like, "Do you think you could make some music for this movie?" Terasawa answered, "It's not gonna to be cheap. I could do it for free, but the other members are not going to do it for free." I then asked, "How much is it going to cost?" Terasawa said, "One song would cost $1,000.00." I was like, Maybe I could raise some money." Terasawa followed up with, "Dude, I'll help you any way I can." He's going to do the music for the movie, but it'll probably only be one song. I'll probably find somebody else to compose along side him. But still, having Rider Chips make music for your movie is just amazing. Whether it's one song or five, it's Rider Chips! Since Rider Chips is a property of Avex, they won't be able to say, "Yeah, we're Rider Chips, and we're working on Gun Caliber!" Terasawa is actually one of the head teachers of this music school, so they'll be doing the song for Gun Caliber as part of the music school-- but it's essentially Rider Chips. Satoshi Imai (Sazer-X and Hayate's Writer) and Hayate's main hero Japanator: Back in December, you mentioned that  Satoshi Imai was writing Hayate: Asakusa's Ninja Hero, so how did you recruit him? Bueno: I met him through Tetsudon. We talked for a bit, and I told him that I wanted to do something for the kids. Since he wrote Sazer-X, I figured that he'd be the perfect person for the job. Japanator: What were some of your favorite moments that you experienced in Japan? Bueno: Some of my favorites moments from when I was living in Japan was definitely my arrival here. It's an entirely new world, and everybody goes through that. Meeting so many influential people in so many industries-- like I met Shimomura Yuji, he's the Action Director for Versus. Meeting all of the action people was fun, and I learned a lot from there. Becoming a Worm and a Kamen Rider on stage was pretty cool-- I got to be Kick Hopper for a hero show for Kabuto. My first hero show was actually Lion-Maru G. I did a night show, and that was pretty fun-- I was one of the Shadow Ninjas. That was a fun time. Also, meeting Koichi Sakamoto was pretty cool as well, I learned a lot from him. He taught me that it's not just about shooting action or anything like that either, it's about the industry itself and how to do it as a business. Gun Caliber gets the Koichi Sakamoto Seal of Approval! Japanator: Is Sakamoto one of the key influences that got you to make tokusatsu and form Garage Hero? Bueno: Well, I formed Garage Hero before I met Sakamoto. I'll say that I will treasure his advice that he's given me about the industry forever. He taught me things about the-behind the-scenes and on-set, since I talked with him both on set and off set-- he's this plethora of knowledge that has experience in Japan and abroad. He's taught me a lot, and I'm definitely looking forward to learning more from him. Hideki Oka is also another person that's influenced me over here-- he's the Director of Ultraman Saga, Ultra Zero Fight, Bima Satria Garuda. He also did Rescue Force, Rescue Fire, and Ryukendo. There was one time when I was working on Gaion Sigma, and he called me up and said, "how's directing Gaion Sigma," and I was crying. Then he was like, "Why don't you be a man?! Come over here! What are you doing after work? Come out here! Come to Shinjuku and bring your script!" I couldn't read kanji so he helped me translate the kanji in the script to furigana, and told me, "Bueno, you got to realize what's going to happen, you got to be a director and grow a pair, or else no one will follow you." Then I was crying man tears and he was hugging me and I went, "Thank you so much!" And Oka was like, "No worries. Don't worry about it, we're all in this together." God, this guy is so awesome! Hideki Oka is definitely one of the people who's been such a good mentor to me. When he saw Gun Caliber-- he came to a screening and everyone asked him: "What did you think of the movie?" He looked at me and said, "You know, I worked on Ryukendo, Ultraman, and Rescue Force, but what you've done, I don't think I could ever do in my life." The Director of Ultraman told me this crazy compliment, and those words gave me so much strength. I'm thankful to Hideki Oka. Him and Sakamoto also hang out sometimes too. From left to right: AV idol Fuzuki, Bueno, and Hideki Oka Japanator: Speaking of which, how did you establish your connections with the people in the tokusatsu industry? Bueno: Introductions through introductions, and because of Gun Caliber. That's one of the reasons why I'm glad that I did Gun Caliber, since I met so many people because of it. Through Gun Caliber, this one actress introduced me to her boyfriend, who introduced me to Tetsudon, which is this group of film makers. Not only is Oka in there, but Takuchi Kyotaka, the Director of Patlabor: The Next Generation-- I think he did a few episodes of Neo Ultra Q, is in Tetsudon. My camera man got invited into the set of Kyoryuger as an extra, and he introduced me to Sakamoto. Again, it all comes back to Gun Caliber. All of the introductions that I've had until now is because I made the first indie tokusatsu shot by a foreigner. Whenever somebody hears that, they go: "Oh my god, that's you!" Japanator: So what is it like to be the first foreigner to make an indie tokusatsu film in Japan? Bueno: Better than sex. I mean, it's just as good as sex with a hot girl.  And that's it for the first part of our interview with Bueno. The next feature'll focus on his projects, and the mediums that inspired him. Let's just say that Bueno will talk about his tough times (such his involvement with Gaion Sigma). Last but not least, I promise that you'll get more bullets, babes, and beer-- subtitle credit goes to Bueno. Until then, stay tune for the next episode of the Story of Bueno!
Bueno Part 1 photo
Bullets, Babes, Beer: The story of Bueno
Gun Caliber: Bootleg Edition's stream may have left the scene, but Japanator was able to ask Bueno, the film's Director and main hero, some questions. I guess you could say that he's the Stephen Chow of tokusatsu. Also, his n...

Denkou Choujin Gridman  photo
Denkou Choujin Gridman

TRIGGER shows off their toku side in Animator Expo's ninth short


BABY DAN DAN BABY DAN DAN!
Jan 16
// Salvador GRodiles
Oh my. I never imagined that we would see an anime short that's based off of an existing toku show on Amimator Expo's Website. Based on the quality of the project's recent piece, one could tell that Studio TRIGGER's Gridman a...
Spider-Man photo
Spider-Man

Toei's Spider-Man series web-slings its way back to Marvel.com


Just in time for his debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #12
Jan 11
// Salvador GRodiles
Now that's what you call a perfect timing, people! Right when the Emissary from Hell, "Supaidaman," made his comic book debut in The Amazing Spider-Man issue 12, Marvel has decided to re-upload Toei's 1978 Spider-Ma...

  Around the web (login to improve these)




Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter?
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -